For whatever reason, a good werewolf story is hard to find. Some really good ones are the 1946 She-Wolf of London and the 2000 Ginger Snaps. Both happen to be about women that deal with werewolfism and both are under-appreciated films. Both of these films also utilize strong storytelling and horror as a metaphor to tell entertaining and compelling stories. Dark Horse’s Riven by Bo Hampton and Robert Tinnell should be put in the same company as the above films – on several levels. Riven happens to be about a woman, is a werewolf story and also employs top-notch storytelling but it’s a book.
Riven, written by Hampton and Tinnell is about a little girl, Katy Harrington that is adopted from Eastern Europe into a loving American family. At around puberty, she is in a tragic accident that leaves her in a coma for years. When comes out of the coma, she finds herself acting strange and aggressive during the different phases of the moon. Eventually, she learns that her birth father was cursed and she’s forced to go back to Romania and face her past. The action of the story builds nicely with fun details and a realistic emotional roller-coaster that makes for interesting development of several characters, Katy and her friends and family.
Drawn in a loose and painterly style, Hampton’s art makes Riven and its characters emotive and unique. The book’s imagery ranges from mundane hospital and home scenes to visions of brutal attacks from werewolves – there’s plenty of range that Hampton handles quite nicely. Each panel and page has a sense of depth that a lot of painterly artists can’t quite get but Hampton does a great job of it – even in the very dark scenes where the world could more easily become blurred and lost. Hampton throws dashes of color into his backgrounds to give a sense of depth and intensity.
Riven does a great job of making werewolves fun again; as both a metaphor and a crazy-improbable monster of horror.